The Muslim Refusenik and Me, Part I

The blogging and reporting on Iraq has been so good that I won’t do another roundup here, other than to lament, as someone who is subjected to the Canadian media, how dreadful the asymmetry is. The most ‘liberal’ paper in the country, the Toronto Star, had a massive headline: “12 more marines die in Iraq”. The subheadline, much smaller — “3-day toll is 30 Americans and 130 Iraqis” (that would be my emphasis). The casualties are almost certainly far higher for Iraqis, as the US has sealed Fallujah off to commit atrocities unnoticed there. It seems that I have commented on Iraq, after all. But the purpose of this entry is to discuss my correspondence with that intrepid ‘Muslim Refusenik’, Irshad Manji… read on, if you have the stomach.

So, Norman Finkelstein called Alan Dershowitz a ‘raving lunatic’ in a recent interview, and I patterned my own review of Irshad Manji after Finkelstein’s work. Unfortunately I lack Norman’s imagination for terms of abuse, although that’s probably just as well: Dershowitz’s strategy is plagiarism and fabrication under the veneer of Harvard University. Manji’s strategy is flagrant displays of ignorance in order to elicit abuse, which she can then use as proof of how intolerant her detractors are. That’s why I stuck to the fact that she’s a fraud in the review, rather than on any opinions I might have of her character.

Anyway, at the end of my review I wrote this:

“Let me say publicly that on Nov. 20, 2003, at her public talk at Ryerson university in Toronto, in front of several hundred people who came to listen to her speech, “Defending Israel is Defending Diversity”, I told Irshad Manji that she has a standing invitation to go to the Occupied Territories with the International Solidarity Movement. I gave her my email address and the sites for ISM Canada ( and ISM ( She has not replied to my invitation.”

A few weeks later, Manji did indeed write to me! I’ll post the first email, and then leave you hanging… posting the next round in a later post.

December 16, 2003

Dear Justin,

Greetings. Irshad here. I’m writing to explore next steps with regard to sending me on a journalistic mission under the auspices of the International Solidarity Movement. I’ve checked out both websites that you’ve given to me, and look forward to learning more.

Next steps?



P.S. Sorry I couldn’t follow up with you sooner. I’ve been on book-related travels. Life gets even more hectic as of mid-January, so let’s be sure touch base before then.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.